For reasons surpassing understanding, The (Columbia, S.C.) State newspaper devoted several hundred words over the weekend in an effort to determine why S.C. Rep. Bakari Sellers’ October 2012 arrest for driving under the influence was greeted by calls for compassion – not calls for the young lawmaker’s resignation.
In fact the paper even quoted our founding editor as referring to Sellers’ arrest – news of which broke earlier this month – as “practically a non-event.”
The State was – as is often the case – befuddled.
“Where was all of this goodwill when state Rep. Ted Vick, D-Chesterfield, was arrested for drunken driving?” the paper’s lead political reporter Adam Beam mused.
Comparing Sellers’ and Vick’s DUI arrests is like comparing a jaywalker to John Wayne Gacy (ok … that’s exaggerating a bit). But just for the sake of comparing, let’s look at the tale of the tape, shall we?
First of all Sellers is a single, 28-year-old who is currently not seeking higher office. His arrest was by-the-book, ho-hum and involved nothing in the way of exacerbating circumstances. On the other hand Vick is a married 40-year-old who was seeking a seat in the United States Congress when he was busted last May (in fact he was the democratic frontrunner for the state’s seventh congressional district at the time).
But that’s just the beginning of the differences. Vick wasn’t just drunk (allegedly) … he was also speeding (driving recklessly some might say), packing heat and transporting a woman who wasn’t his wife to her domicile when he was pulled over.
In fact prior to referring to Sellers’ arrest as “practically a non-event,” we had this to say about Vick’s bust …
Vick pulled off the ‘Grand Slam’ of traffic busts when we was caught speeding, driving under the influence and carrying an unauthorized firearm – all while traveling with a college coed (Vick is not only married, he’s one of those ‘family values‘ democrats).
Yeah, The State neglected to provide that context …
So, to what does The State attribute the muted reaction to Sellers’ DUI arrest?
“Sellers is popular at the State House,” Beam concludes. “And for good reason. He is smart, funny and level-headed. He is good at his job.”
Maybe all of those things are true (and we’d agree most of them are), but Sellers’ popularity has absolutely nothing to do with this discrepancy. Ted Vick’s DUI blew up because of multiple exacerbating factors (gun, girl, congressional bid, hypocrisy) – none of which were present in Sellers’ arrest.
The fact The State didn’t list any of these factors is surprising … especially since the paper seems inclined to cut Sellers some slack over the incident.
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